Undergraduate Medical Curriculum: Relevance And Appropriateness to Community’s Health Needs

Type Conference Paper - the 2017 Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) in the South Conference Johannesburg, 24-27 July, 2017
Title Undergraduate Medical Curriculum: Relevance And Appropriateness to Community’s Health Needs
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2017
URL http://www.sotlinthesouth.co.za/images/SoTL_Proceedings_FINAL.pdf#page=59
Medical education, based on modern science, has contributed to doubling the lifespan of people
in the global south. However, there continue to be inequities in health care provision, some of
which can be attributed to the lack of attention given to community’s health needs in
undergraduate medical curricula. Aga Khan University, Pakistan pioneered community-based
undergraduate curriculum to develop leaders who are capable of addressing community’s
health needs. The current paper assesses if this undergraduate medical curriculum is relevant
and appropriate to community’s health needs.
To assess the relevance and appropriateness of Aga Khan University’s undergraduate
curriculum to community’s health needs, a framework was developed. The framework had
three major parameters for identifying community’s health needs including: public health
concepts as recommended in national standards, major public health problems; and attributes
required for fulfilling societal needs.
This assessment revealed that for relevance and appropriateness to community’s health needs,
the curriculum has to be community-based. For this, primary healthcare prototypes are crucial
that connect medical education to health system. This community-based experiential learning
helps students to; identify context-specific health needs, and develop culture-sensitive
practices. This approach is difficult to operationalize in developing countries where national
health systems focus curative care at tertiary hospitals primarily and community-based primary
healthcare facilities are mostly non-functioning. Another challenge is training and retention of
motivated community-based teaching faculty.
We recommend that undergraduate medical schools should review and update their curricula
to; match competencies to population needs, move beyond predominant hospital orientation to
primary care and impart leadership and team work skills among health professionals. This
argues for community-based medical education despite enormous economic, political and
social challenges that hound the world today.

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